By Jesse Kelley and Ramon Hough
Matt “the Predator” Vanda (40-9, 22 KOs) won a controversial majority decision over Tocker Pudwill (40-7, 14 KOs) in the main event Saturday night at the Target Center in Minneapolis. Also featured were the Litzau Brothers, who had mixed results. Wilton Hilario (11-0-1, 9 KOs) stopped Allen Litzau (13-4, 7 KOs) in the fifth round while Jason Litzau (24-2, 20 KOs) took out veteran Phillip Payne (16-23-1, 8 KOs), also in the fifth round.
Both Vanda and Pudwill spent most of the fight in the center of the ring exchanging punches which made for an exciting fight. However, Pudwill’s size and edge in consistant punch output seemed to give him the nod throughout most of the early and middle rounds. Vanda had success landing single shots, but had a difficult time getting inside the longer reach of Pudwill to find a rhythm. Pudwill answered by countering all night with body and head combinations. Vanda came on strong in the final two rounds which must have swayed the judges his way. Scores read 76-76, 77-75, 77-75 for Vanda.
Following the bout, Pudwill had a look of disbelief as he tried to explain to Fightnews his thoughts on what took place.
“I knew coming in it would be tough to get a decision in his hometown, but I didn’t think it was going to go like this. I feel like I won at least six rounds.” Stated Pudwill. As far as a rematch, Pudwill said he needed to take sometime to think about what he would do next, stating that he felt a little weak after the fifth and sixth rounds, possibly due to the drop from 168 to 160 pounds.
Vanda congratulated Pudwill afterwards and acknowledged to the North Dakotan that he was also shocked by the scores. Vanda told Pudwill he would give him a rematch.
“I’m not a judge,” exclaimed Vanda after the fight. “It was a good fight, that’s all I know. I would love to give him a rematch if he wants it.”
With the win, Vanda ends a two-fight losing streak in fights against John Duddy and Julio Cesar Chavez, Jr.
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Wilton Hilario (11-0-1, 9 KOs) halted Allen Litzau (13-4, 7 KOs) in the fifth round to pick up the IBA Americas featherweight title. In a great battle between two heated rivals, Wilton Hilario came out victorious by continuously coming forward mainly behind a brutal body attack and overwhelming combinations. Both fighters showed tons of heart. The 25-year-old Hilario appeared to have a considerable edge in physical strength and seemed to hurt Litzau throughout the fight with hard shots to the body and head. Litzau landed his share of punches, but they didn’t seem to have much effect on Hilario.
By the fifth round, Litzau was bleeding from his mouth and seemed to have lost much of the snap on his punches. Hilario landed a series of big right hands to the head followed by some huge left hooks which caused Litzau to stagger into the ropes on shaky legs. Litzau was still fighting back, albeit on shaky legs, when referee Referee Mark Nelson stepped in to stop the fight at 1:04.
“Every punch I touched him with, I hurt him,” said Hilario afterwards. “I was ready to go ten rounds. I already knew what the outcome would be. He couldn’t handle my pressure.”
Litzau complained bitterly about the stoppage and felt he should’ve been allowed to continue.
“It hurts that this would happen to me again in my home state.” Said Litzau when talking about the fight being stopped.
” I train so hard for this and It’s all taken away because the fight was stopped premature. I knew he (Hilario) was going to come at me like that, I was prepared. All I wanted to do was make it competitive early and take him into deep waters. I worked too hard for this. I could see if I wasn’t throwing punches or was unconcious but that wasn’t the case.”
When asked what’s next, Litzau said “I’ll be in the gym tomorrow”.
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In his first fight in over a year, former world title challenger Jason “the American Boy” Litzau (24-2, 20 KOs) looked extremely sharp and poised while stopping durable veteran Phillip Payne (16-23-1, 8 KOs) in the fifth round. Litzau trapped the much bigger Payne on the ropes throughout the fight unleashing his full arsenal of body and head shots. Payne showed an iron chin, but didn’t offer much, if anything, in return until late in the fight. Referee Bobby Brunette appeared to warn Payne on a few occasions that he would stop the fight if Payne didn’t punch back. In what was probably his best moment of the fight, Payne threw a flurry of shots that seemed to get the attention of Litzau in the fifth. Litzau retaliated with a lightning quick series of shots that had Payne on the ropes covering up again. Brunette had seen enough and waved the fight off at :52 of the fifth round. Payne didn’t appear hurt and was upset that he wasn’t allowed to continue.
Litzau, who hopes to fight for another featherweight world title, didn’t show any ring rust in his return. For the most part, Litzau also stayed true to his pre-fight promise that he would be a more disciplined fighter in the ring. However, he did revert back to the habit of dropping his hands and playing to the crowd a few times after being hit.
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Middleweight knockout artist Cerresso Fort (6-0, 6 KOs) knocked Bobby Kliewer (9-8, 4 KOs) down five times en route to an impressive fourth round TKO. The 22-year-old Fort put the always game Kliewer down in the first round with a series of booming right hands to the head. It was another overhand right in the second round that put Kliewer down for the second time. In the third round, Fort showed his versatility putting Kliewer down with a powerful left hook to the body. Kliewer went down again from a short, right uppercut later in the round. By the fourth round, Kliewer was still smiling and winging wild punches. The end came after Kliewer dropped his hands inviting Fort to hit him. Fort answered with two left hooks and a crushing right hand that put Kliewer down hard for the fifth and final time. Referee Bobby Brunette started to count, but Kliewer motioned that he’d had enough with a smile on his face. The end came at 2:03 of the fourth round. For Fort, it was a nearly flawless performance. However, he hit Kliewer on a few occasions while he was down.
Welterweight Jon Laboda (5-0, 4 KOs ) stopped Patrick Cape (5-5, 3 KOs) in the second round of a heated fight. Both fighters landed their share of punches in the first round with Laboda trying to unload bombs while Cape came out firing overhand right hands. Taking the advice of his father and trainer, Johnny Johnson, Laboda started focusing on Cape’s body. He landed a series of thudding shots to the body that had Cape hurt and breathing heavily. Cape never gave up and continued throwing punches, but Laboda was just too much. Laboda hurt Cape again in the second round forcing him into corner. The follow-up assault forced the referee to call an end to the fight.
Don Tierney (1-0) beat Zach Schumach (0-1) via a four-round unanimous decision in the card’s opening bout. Fighting in their pro debuts, both fighters looked a little uncomfortable in the early going. Many exchanges resulted in clinches that turned into wrestling. This might have been because of the referee’s slow reaction to breaking the fighters. Tierney, who has been away from boxing for awhile, got one of the loudest ovations from the crowd.